Equine flu remains a concern as new cases confirmed

  • The current outbreak of equine flu remains an ongoing concern with five new cases having been confirmed by the Animal Health Trust during the first seven days of March.

    The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has reported confirmed cases of the virus in Suffolk, Staffordshire and three cases at separate premises in Sussex, both in vaccinated and unvaccinated horses.

    Yesterday (7 March) a case was confirmed in Sussex in an unvaccinated non-thoroughbred that had been imported from Ireland.

    An AHT spokesman said approximately 30 other vaccinated horses are on the premises, but have “not shown any clinical signs” at this stage.

    On 5 March two cases at separate two premises in Sussex were confirmed. The first case is in a vaccinated non-throroughbred who presented with nasal discharge.

    “There are 18 other horses that are vaccinated at the premises but have not shown any clinical signs at this stage,” said the AHT spokesman.

    In the second case, a positive diagnosis was made on an unvaccinated non-thoroughbred, that had contact with another horse reported to have been recently imported from Ireland.

    “The case presented with harsh dry coughing, nasal discharge, pyrexia and in-appetence and there is one directly in-contact animal, which had recently been imported showing signs of a nasal discharge. There are 18 other horses that are vaccinated but which are not showing clinical signs at this stage,” said the spokesman.

    On 4 March cases were confirmed in Suffolk and Staffordshire.

    The positive diagnosis in Suffolk was confirmed in an unvaccinated non-thoroughbred, recently imported from Ireland.

    “There are 14 in-contacts with varying vaccination status and four of these have had mild signs of coughing,” said the spokesman.

    In Staffordshire a positive diagnosis was confirmed in an unvaccinated non-throroughbred.

    The AHT spokesman said no furthers cases had been reported at the Staffordshire premises of five horses, three of which are “fully and recently” vaccinated.

    This brings the total number of outbreaks reported to the Animal Health Trust during 2019 to 45.

    Meanwhile, officials at Malvern’s popular Three Counties showground have said equines must be vaccinated against flu within the last six months plus 21 days, but not within seven days before are attending the showground.

    Equines who have only received the primary course of vaccinations can attend, as long as they have had the first two injections which make up the primary course; the second of which must have been given six months plus 21 days but not within seven days before the show.

    This means equines attending the CountryTastic show on 18 April must have received their last vaccination between 28 September 2018 and 11 April 2019 inclusive, and equines attending the Royal Three Counties Show on 14-16 June must have received their last vaccination between 24 November 2018 and 7 June inclusive.

    Head of shows, Diana Walton, said: “Equine flu is a serious concern to anyone involved in the industry and, as a responsible organisation, we have to play our part.

    “After taking guidance from our team of highly-experienced equine experts we have decided that we have no alternative options but to enforce the FEI guidelines. This means that any horse, pony, donkey or mule attending an event at the showground must have been vaccinated as per the FEI requirements.”


    Equine who have not been vaccinated correctly will not be allowed to attend the showground.

    “Equine entries will have their passports checked and any animals found not to be complying with the FEI vaccination rules will not be allowed to enter the showground,” said Diana.

    “We know how passionate the equine community is about the welfare of its animals and we’re counting on people’s support on this matter.”

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